Mayfield Heights-20150417-00502


It’s funny what we notice.  My friend, fresh from attending her first meeting of an entrepreneurs’ organization, told me what she had observed.  “They seem to have a chip on their shoulder”.

Melissa (name changed) has been a business owner for over twenty years, but her modesty prevents her from seeing herself as an entrepreneur.  Her naturally positive attitude set her apart from so many of her peers in that room.

Melissa is an entrepreneur and her business history, both successes and failures, mirror the experiences of the men and women at the meeting.  The difference isn’t financial.  It is attitude.

How or why does someone become an entrepreneur?  This list is hardly exhaustive and can’t possibly include all of the paths to business ownership.  It is just a start.

  • Some of us, from our first lemonade stand, just knew that we were happiest when we were the boss.
  • Some were downsized / fired / let go one time too many, couldn’t find a job, and were forced to create their own jobs.
  • Some were born into a business that became theirs whether they really wanted it or not.
  • Some toiled for a boss or corporation that never fully recognized their value and never rewarded them, financially or emotionally, for their efforts and expertise.
  • And of course, some of us just make lousy employees.

What unites so many of us is that feeling that we have succeeded In Spite of our parents, our siblings, our friends, the banks, the government, etc…  There was always someone dying to play the devil’s advocate.  No matter what you achieved, awards received, goals set and met, there is always a helpful family member sure that you could get a real job if you just tried.

Spend a few years playing Me Against The World and you will probably have a chip on your shoulder.

But that is only part of the story.

The other part is Victimhood.  We have become a nation of victims.  We have elevated our personal grievances, great and small, into world class trauma. We conflate our losses and brushes with danger so that our successes will be even greater.  Whether it is Brian Williams or Hillary Clinton under fire or homophobic pizza shop owners worried about a deluge of gay wedding catering opportunities, Americans have decided that we are under attack.

And if we really are under attack, if our values, our system, our very way of life is endangered, then we need to be defended.  Americans tend to take things their illogical extreme.  Thus even if it is the government that is supposedly attacking us, we still want the government to defend us.

There are people, even mainstream political candidates, who think that the Second Amendment allows them to amass store houses of weapons to use in some future battle with the government!  And because the Supreme Court has begun the process to recognize the validity of same sex marriages, we have the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act.

Talk to a videographer or a florist about your upcoming wedding.  As they are discussing the services that they will be providing and the charges for their time and efforts, they make it clear that they are an integral part of your ceremony.  We want pictures, flowers, and cake.  They want an acknowledgement that it really isn’t a wedding without them.  So now some, a precious few, are saying that they can’t sell their services in certain situations because it would make them complicit with something they find sinful.  Crap.  They have inflated their value to such a point that they are shocked when so few people care what they think.

Providing the flowers at a wedding is no different than providing the flowers to a funeral.  Does the presence of your bouquets mean that you are positive that the deceased is heaven-bound?  Did the family review the deceased’s charitable activities and church attendance with you prior to your acceptance of the order?  Was the same information shared with the caterer?

There are now businesses advertising on Facebook, etc… that they will not be serving members of the LGBT community.  I will not provide links.  I do not promote hate or stupidity.  These business people are luxuriating in their victimhood.  They want everyone to know how brave they are, how firm they are in their convictions, and how quickly you can donate to their gofundme site.

But what about the other victims.  Not the baker.  Not the photographer.  Not even the 70 year old florist in Colorado, so dug in on her position that she may end up losing her business due to her stubbornness and the people egging her on.  No, what about the other victims, the gay couple.  It is a shame that in 2015 you can never find anyone to sell you flowers, take your picture, or make a cake.  It is so hard, since there is no way to order anything online or from another service provider down the street, that the moment you pick a service provider they had better buy in on everything you want to do.

I expect everyone to accept me, or else!

Well no one is universally accepted.  Not you and certainly not me.  And there are any number of reasons for someone to not like me or who they may think I am.  And in the past I have chosen to withhold my services from those who didn’t meet my standards.

I was sitting in the client’s Mayfield Hts. home.  It was about 20 – 25 years ago, at a time when every case helped to pay for dinner.  I had worked hard to get the couple issued at a reasonable rate.  The negotiations were difficult and I was proud of the results.  The woman looked at me and said, “That’s pretty good David.  Thank you.  Do you think you could Jew them down a little further?”  I said that I thought that this was the best deal that they could get but that it would be up to them and their next agent to discuss that.  She must have realized that I had just fired her as a client as I began to pack up my papers.  She told me that she didn’t realize that I was Jewish and apologized if she had offended me.  I thanked her for the apology, but let my decision stand.  I never talked to her or her husband again.

Is that legal under the Indiana law?  Can I make a decision to not do business with someone due to my religious conviction (Assholes aren’t Kosher!)?  I don’t know.  I never considered myself a victim.  I just took action.  Now Melissa (remember Melissa?) might think that I, too, had a chip on my shoulder.  I don’t think so.  I simply stood up for myself when the need arose.

The solution, as is so often the case, is simply respect.  Respect to honor our differences.  Respect to accept that others see, believe, and feel differently than us and that we don’t have to change our perspective, we just need to acknowledge the validity of theirs.  Just a little respect…